Eagle Creek Caldera Convertible International Carry-On ($469)
I’ve tested dozens of rollers, duffels, and packs over the years, and this is the first time excellence announced itself so quickly and indisputably. The Convertible combines functionality, sustainability, style, and tech in a convenient, reliable roller pack that works exactly how you need it to, whether at the airport or along rugged back roads.
During a trip to a remote outpost in the Cascades that involved traveling by boat and then on foot, the Convertible’s oversize wheels rolled smoothly across an uneven dock, and the two handles made for easy hoisting. The 100 percent recycled Cordura ripstop fabric, fluorocarbon-free water-repellent coating, and storm-resistant zippers kept everything dry through sideways rain and lake water spraying into the luggage hold. The included NFC technology, which enables lost and found capabilities via a smartphone tracking app, gave me peace of mind in the event that my bag was misplaced during my travels.
On the one-mile, poorly paved road from the boat landing to the cabin, I transformed the Convertible from an airport roller to a pack. Padded shoulder straps, a hipbelt, and a back panel (complete with sternum buckles) unfurl from a zippered compartment hidden in the back panel. That afternoon, the bag offered another bonus: a zip-off daypack with a secure mesh pocket, a laptop sleeve, attachment straps for a jacket or hat, and hydration-bladder compatibility.
Away Expandable Bigger Carry-On ($295)
Best Four-Wheel Roller
When Away launched its colorful rollers in 2016, our assessment was that they were stylish bags with merely average functionality. The newest collection justifies their popularity. The key feature is an outside zippered compartment with a padded laptop sleeve, pockets for emergency essentials like an extra T-shirt, and an expansion zipper at the bottom that nets you an extra 1.75 inches of storage. The bag’s water-resistant nylon is durable and looks good. Under the hood, a zippered mesh section on one side and an open compression system on the other maximize space. The 360-degree-swivel wheels feel smoother than those on other rollers.
Cotopaxi Allpa 42L ($220)
Best Travel Pack
This ultimate adventure carry-on works overtime as a pack, a messenger bag, and a suitcase, with TPU-coated polyester and ballistic nylon that are tough, sleek, and water-repellent. It held enough gear to get through four sweaty days and three cold nights in Joshua Tree National Park, and the clamshell design granted easy access to the four interior zippered compartments, which are great for separating clothes, shoes, and accessories. A padded laptop pocket, an integrated rain cover, a water-bottle pocket, multiple reinforced handles, and external compression loops provide more versatility. The contoured pack straps and adjustable hipbelt make hiking into a campsite a breeze.
Patagonia Black Hole 70L ($329)
Best Rolling Duffel
Roller bags are unquestionably convenient, but cramped hotel rooms make opening split-center luggage next to impossible. Meanwhile, duffel bags can be an organizational nightmare. This structured, wheeled duffel uses a zippered, U-shaped lid that stays propped open for unobstructed access even in tight spaces. Two mesh compartments isolate small items and accessories. This year the bag gets updated with 100 percent recycled-polyester face fabric, polyester lining, and nylon webbing. Add to that reinforced handles and seams, a water-repellent finish, and a two-position telescoping handle, and you get a great bag for weekends and weeklong treks alike.